As a Startup, You Can Still Say ‘No’ to Your Customer, If..

Customer acquisition and development is critical task for a startup. With limited budget-time-resource, it is almost impossible to let go even 1 single customer. As a Startup you have hardly any room to say no to a customer such as when they ask for new features, additional services, reduced pricing and many such things. As customer is God and Startup is your life’s precious ambition, so you think your Startup shouldn’t say ‘No’ to a customer, isn’t ? Go ahead, you should say ‘No’, not for the sake of saying but certainly ‘say no’ if you think your customer will move on if you don’t fulfil their suggestion.  SAY_NO

Rome wasn’t built in a day

If you think your customer will run away just because you couldn’t hear & serve their need, then you are missing big picture of your own Startup. It takes time, none of the super Startups were built in a day, they were build over years by bringing on the most valuable solution for customers. Your customer knows it, tell them ‘No’. Don’t burn yourself, stay focused.

Everything is ordinary on day one

It is a fact that when a Startup is launched (whether you build it or incubate in Y-Combinator, StartupWeekend, Seedcamp etc), it is the basic ‘minimum viable product’, ordinary to most customer’s eye. Hence during first few months, customer may puzzle you asking for anything & everything they think you should be doing or your Startup product is lacking. Go ahead listen to them (note what makes sense) and say ‘No’ politely.

Each Customer’s Like is different

One customer may like what you have built, but several others might not need that. So should you be cooking product for 1 customer or cook for ‘common problem’ ? Say ‘No’ to such 1 specific customer by helping them to understand their need and find a way how they could do without it. At same time, reach out to your other customers and verify if your thought makes sense.  If your customer is asking for Vitamin, you can certain say ‘No’ as long as your product is solving their pain. [read this nice article: Vitamins or Pain Killer? What exactly are you solving?]

Your competitor(s) are not running on ‘free’ oil

It is a common fear for a Startup that if they don’t hear customer, customer will go to competitor. The fact is your competitor is equally challenged and have their own schedule and roadmap. Even if your competitor does fulfil what your customer asked, it is impossible that they can do so every time. Say ‘No’ if you have this thought bothering you.

Relationship works

Whether you said ‘No’ to a customer for their new requirements or not, at the end of the day, your customer is your customer if you have built/can build relationship with them. It is the relationship which brings you customer who stays with you for longer time. Say ‘No’ to new requirement but build relationship. Tough! in’t ?

Having said all the above, you shouldn’t miss the point : your customer care about their problem and not about your solution. Hence apply GTD principles like Do-Delay-Delete-Delegate.

  • Do it if it solves pain, part of your solution area
  • Delay it if you are not sure and want to cross check with more customers.
  • Delete it if it is absolutely not related to what you offer
  • Delegate it to other who could fulfil the need (such as other Startups who is doing what your customer is asking for and unrelated to your solution)

Your thoughts & suggestions are most welcome.

[Guest article contributed by Santosh Panda, founder of Ayojak. Reproduced from Santosh’s blog]

[Image credit: sea turtle/Flickr]

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